Palm drawings (charcoal)
Inspired by the graphic and rhythmic pattern of leaves on a majesty palm plant, this series began with a single frond, with as much attention paid to the spaces between leaves as to the leaves themselves (Palm #1). Each successive drawing became a new exercise. Next, I tried to capture its perfectly arching spine, with added perspective of leaves coming forward and back (Palm #2). Then came overlapping fronds, and noticing the way the leaves are connected at the tips, and the new spear appears, with a whole frond folded up inside (Palm #3). When I stepped back to draw more of the palm, its upward, outreaching gesture reminded me of a fountain that was a recent inspiration (Palm #4). This palm drawing became the basis for a large scale, public art installation in Waltham (Palm #4--for Waltham). My final palm drawing was the most ambitious, with four fronds, all overlapping, at double the size (Palm #5). All five drawings were from the same majesty palm as it grew happily in my studio and unfolded new fronds. Like our lives, the palm progresses from simple to complex, from one layer to many, demanding a deeper level of unity, simplicity, harmony and balance, defying confusion and chaos. Life goes forward, continually enriched, always reaching outward and upward.

Fruit, flower, leaf and pod drawings (graphite, colored pencil)
This series of detailed drawings began simply, with one, lovely, tulip magnolia blossom and a pencil, trying to capture the billowing curves of the petals, using just gray tones, without line. Next came the black-eyed susan planted in our garden--first in black and white, then in full color. Its quirky appearance in the stage between bud and blossom resonated with me, as a parent of a young teen. On a walk in the Battle Road trail, I noticed the twisting forms and soft colors of dried leaves on cut willow branches. The unique shape and form of each leaf and the spaces between them became a metaphor for the individuality and dynamic interplay between members of a family or group. The blushing beauty of a bartlett pear, the red and green continents of a globe-like apple, a fallen pear and a spotted apple from old orchard trees in my neighborhood got me to spend hours appreciating the beauty of a single piece of fruit. Working slowly from light color to dark, I watched these fruits ripen and change color over time. While I never ate them, we did become great friends.

Creation Scrolls (dye on silk)
This series of six large dye paintings on silk cloth was inspired by the creation story in the first chapter of Genesis. Each scroll represents a different day, including the light; the firmament or sky; the sea and land; the sun, moon, earth and stars; the fish and birds; and lastly, the animals and man. In this visual exploration, I’ve been more interested in understanding, appreciating and expressing the spiritual force behind creation than in any literal depiction or interpretation. These six paintings were shown in the Lincoln Library Gallery (Massachusetts) in 2004. 

Day Seven: Creation Celebration was executed as a commission after the exhibit, and represents the final day of creation. Here, the elements of creation from the preceding six days are brought together in one composition. Although the seventh day is described as a day of rest, everything is active, from the swimming fish, to the running animals, to the dancing figures. Altogether, the piece is a celebration, rejoicing in the abundance, beauty, goodness and power reflected in God’s creation. 


Joan Wolcott